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  • July 2009
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From the Notebook

-Spent some time talking with people about Collin Peterson’s remarks about townhalls. The reactions were all negative. The complaints focused not on Peterson calling the district 25% “truther,” but on the fact Peterson didn’t like doing townhalls. Seems even a popular representative should spend time listening to their district. Even when half the district has below average intelligence (imagine a politician saying that about their district).

-Finished “The Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. It’s Luttrell’s story of becoming a navy SEAL and surviving a dangerous encounter with terrorists in Afghanistan (an encounter which killed the other three members of his four-man SEAL team). It’s a great book and I can’t recommend it enough. Lt. Mike Murphy, the leader of Luttrell’s SEAL team (SEAL Team 10), was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

-This class has me packing in a lot of material in a very short period of time so I’m being kept busy. But, I’m producing regular material over at the Bleacher Report.

-Finished “The Book: Playing the percentages in baseball” by Tom Tango et al. It’s a book for baseball managers and GMs to understand strategies for squeezing a few extra wins out of a season using statistical analysis and game theory. This is one of the few baseball strategy books to talk about game theory and this fact alone should make it necessary reading for baseball fans.


Twins Free Giveaways

I was just thinking, as the trading deadline approaches, who are the guys on the Twins’ roster who can be basically given up in trades for next to nothing (low prospects/roster fillers)? Here’s what I came up with:

Alexi Casilla
R.A. Dickey
Mike Redmond
Joe Crede
Matt Macri
Nick Punto
Matt Tolbert

Basically, they are all superfluous replacement level players on the Twins roster. R.A. Dickey is perhaps the most valuable player and shouldn’t be given away completely for free, but the Twins have so little invested in him that any return would have to be considered gravy.

Redmond has struggled defensively and offensively and is near the end of his career. Jose Morales fills his position just fine, so does Drew Butera.

Crede was just a filler while the Twins waited on Danny Valencia. Valencia is ready (with Buscher, Harris and Luke Hughes as depth) so Crede should be traded in for anything the Twins would find useful.

Matt Macri is a third baseman with some potential who could provide some value to a national league team as a bench player.

Nick Punto sucks.

Matt Tolbert is a cheap Nick Punto. Together they might bring in a few hundred bats.

Rep. Collin Peterson, Jerk?

“Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down. That’s why I don’t do town meetings.”

–Rep. Collin Peterson, MN 7th District

Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton replies:

“Collin Peterson must immediately apologize for the outrageous and offensive comments he made about his own constituents. By stating that ‘twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down’ and that’s ‘why I don’t do town meetings,’ Peterson revealed just how out of touch and disconnected he has become in Washington. Given his liberal voting record, the real reason Peterson doesn’t hold town hall meetings is because he is afraid to face the residents of his district.”

Let’s seperate some issues here;

1) Do 9-11 “truthers” (conspiracy theorists) deserve to be shunned, ridiculed and avoided.

My attitude, having debated these people several times, is yes, they deserve shunning and ridicule. More importantly, almost all the falsifiable claims made by these conspiracy theorists have been proven wrong. (Popular Mechanics did a great job with this.)

2) Is Collin Peterson wrong about the number (25%) and is Sutton right about his interpretation? (Is it 25% of his district or just 25% of those who attend townhall meetings or is it 25% of Democrats in his district?)

To me, it sounds like Peterson is talking about Democrats or the people who attend townhalls. But, even if he’s talking about the entire district, there is some support for his assertion. The Wikipedia article on the subject cites several different polls (none too recent) suggesting 36% of the American population believes the U.S. either participated in 9-11 or covered up foreknowledge of the event. Up to 16% of the population believe explosives were used to take down the World Trade Towers.

So, halfway between 16 and 36 is 26. Not a bad estimate, even adjusting for the conservatism of the district. (And, living in the district, I can tell you there are “truthers” out there.)

Peterson has some justification for his estimate.

3) Is it right for Peterson to avoid spending time talking to conspiracy theorists?

It’s Peterson’s choice to either represent the district with his industry or his judgment (borrowing from an Edmund Burke quote here). It’s up to the district to vote his methods up or down. Personally, I can’t knock Peterson for avoiding conspiracy theorists.

4) Is Peterson really disconnected from the district?

Debatable. Since his re-election campaigns are uncompetitive, he doesn’t spend a lot of time or resources on grassroots organizing. Not doing townhalls makes him look more aloof. However, I’ve generally found his office responsive to requests. Since Peterson is a Democrat representing a district that McCain won (With 50% of the vote; Peterson won with 72+% of the vote), let’s assume he does connect in some way to the district.

5) Is Sutton doing the right thing?

Is Sutton defending the conspiracy theorists in his press release? Is Sutton denying these crazies even exist? Why would Sutton choose this particular quote to pick a fight with Peterson? Peterson comes out on top by admitting 9-11 truthers are nuts, disruptive and should be ignored. Peterson gets points for being pragmatic and honest. Sutton could easily have taken a different route here by using Peterson’s statement to attack these nuts (who are generally on the left) and portray Democrats in a negative light.

Two thumbs down Tony.


Peterson Apologizes

“If anyone was offended by my off-handed comment, I sincerely apologize — I certainly wasn’t trying to make fun of anyone,” Peterson said in a statement Tuesday.

He said he was referring to constituents who have “called me and talked to me” about alternate explanations of 9/11 and others who try to “hijack” public forums.

Because of this concern, Peterson has kept his several town hall meetings a year focused on specific topics like health care, agriculture or the economy.

Peterson gets a thumbs down for apologizing and saying he didn’t want to make fun of anyone.

Why not, if you’re making fun of fringe characters?

I think Peterson causes more problems with his response than with his initial statement. So, Sutton gets his thumbs down revoked.

No thumbs up for anybody though, this is just ugly politics.

Questions on Healthcare

If healthcare is a “right,” does that mean doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are slaves? Even in part?

There are laws requiring people to help in emergency situations, might the same principle apply to non-emergency situations?

I can’t see how someone has the right to another person’s labor just because the circumstance is a medical one (rather than say taking food from a farmer or clothes from Wal Mart); so I would like a clarification.

Personal Update

These summer session classes are only 4 and 1/2 weeks long and both are 5 credit courses. So, I’ll have my hands full for a while. Presently I’m taking an “Human Resources” course (not taught by Catbert, but maybe approved by?).

Utopia: Canada

From the Notebook

-It’s no secret, I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. Well, it’s mainly because I have been working on a “supersecret” project. My goal is to have the project done in time for El Dos de Mayo 2010. It has been eating up a ton of my writing time. On top of the work the Bleacher Report wants out of me, there’s little time for content here. I shrug as almost all my regular readers can follow me on Facebook. The funny thing is, my traffic this summer is the highest its ever been. Thank you Google.

-Read Kent Hrbek’s “Tales from the Minnesota Twins Dugout.” Really fun stuff, Hrbek is a relaxed Minnesotan who doesn’t take anything too seriously. His anecdotes about his underrated career are funny and interesting. Any and every Twins fan should give it a look.

-Start school again on Monday. I have less than a year left. It’s going to get a little hairy financially. Not to mention the schoolwork itself.

-Finished Plato’s Republic. What a remarkable book. As a work of philosophy it is one of the most important in the Western Canon. The depth and breadth of The Republic is incredible. If you ever get the chance, dive into this book.

New Seth Stohs Book

Seth Stohs, the hardest working Twins blogger I know and all around decent guy, has come out with another book. The author of the “Twins Prospect Handbook” has ventured into even niche-ier territory with his latest book, co-authored with several other great Twins bloggers, “TwinCentric: Trade Deadline Primer.”

Here are some details:

An Unapologetically Biased Guide to the 2009 Trade Season For Twins Fans Only

This 65 page electronic book contains over 30,000 words. It includes:

-Breakdowns of the Twins organization, looking at needs, both now and in the future.

-Team Reviews on the other 29 teams, looking at whether they are Buyers or Sellers, What they Need and What they Have?

-Thoughts on over 100 players that the Twins could, or should, have some interest in.

-Essays on the Twins situation in 2009 and 2010, what if the Twins don’t make a move, and more.

-And a very nice foreword by Phil Mackey of KFAN’s Twins Weekly, Phil Mackey.com and the Minnesota Poker Magazine.

The book is available through Seth’s website, only in e-book form. If your goal is to be smarter than the guy sitting next to you at the sports bar, this book will at least make you look smarter about the Twins.

Joe Mauer’s HR Derby Appearance

After four strikeouts the day before, I was hoping for little more from Joe.

Bob Davis is Back

Doing Podcasts anyway. It’s great to see him back in the fray.